Pulkit Mohan Singla

India is the only democratic country in the world which talks about the rights of every minority and when we talk about minority, women in India stand on priority for any sort of legal, financial, social or political aid. But the results still question the authenticity of the actions taken and the works which have been done so far for the betterment of women, since independence. Women have acquired education, knowledge, posts, recognition as well as fame in India and the so-called male dominance has even started to adjust with the feminine factor but people are still not becoming adaptive towards the fact that women can be their equal competitors in any field today and can even over shadow the presence of male dominance in a working community by exemplary use of their talents and creativity.
Since ages, women have not only been psychologically motivated to work in household jobs but are also made to believe that they are less than men in every kind of work sector and are mind boggled under the label of 'gender roles', into believing that to be their ultimate fate and identity. A woman's role and codes of conduct validating her identity have been predefined by the society and her identity has been challenged every time she voices her opinion and this is mainly because of the orthodox mindset regarding the individuality of a woman, which has been living through generations.

In many parts of India, a girl is still considered a liability since childhood, which would be waived off on her marriage, and in this waiving-off-the-liability, dowry plays an important role. The dowry, which was initially a girl’s money and was basically meant for her security and as a means to fulfil her personal needs or was the little money that will help her in times of difficulty, is a misappropriated term today, which is now considered as a price to be paid to the groom’s family for accepting the girl in the family and keeping her happy in married relationships. A woman, who has been tortured and burnt alive in every 90 minutes in India, has a very long way to go to actually educate people about the real meaning of dowry and relationships that are enriched with love and not bribed for acceptance.

It is not that there is no law that can save women from crimes originating from such mentalities and ill practices. The dowry prohibition act, 1961 prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of dowry, "as consideration for the marriage", where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry, and are legal and hence the provision provides a leeway to the people to ask for the same in hushed tones. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment for up to six months, or a monetary fine of up to ₹ 5,000 (US $74, £52 or A$100). But in today’s scenario these laws seem very inadequate, outdated and unprepared. The leniency of punishment or filing small charges as a punishment does not look appealing in any way to deter the accused; rather act as a stimulant where the groom can continue to torture the girl and still bail himself out by depositing little money. Also, the fine advocated for the same is so less that it stands nowhere in comparison to the dowry which is generally paid by the bride’s family. There are very few women who are able to move out from the stigma of being an endless household slave and even lesser women who never have to compromise anything for a happy marriage.

Most of the narrow minded communities in India consider women as registered servants who are born to give birth to kids and to work at home. Apart from this, their whole identity is questioned and faded in a great black escape. Women who cut the chains of misery and household bondage and work outside for self development and individuality are often tested and judged on various unethical grounds of morality. Women who have worked hard in the professional world and who made India proud globally, also face the same trauma which an ordinary woman faces when she decides to step outside the house for her independence. The challenges may differ but the rate at which these working women are targeted is huge. People have established a mindset that the women who work outside and earn bread are not the women of character. The so called morals and ethical values are loaded only on the shoulders of working women and narrow minded orthodox community never leaves a chance of character assassination of these women. There is no encouragement from any side and besides giving their best; they get a partial and biased treatment in the working environment which is followed by a lesser pay-scale than males employed at similar positions.

Women are constantly under pressure as compared to men in a working environment because her self-respect and sexual identity is challenged. Today we name it sexual harassment but in reality it is coupled with mental, physical and emotional harassment too. Although, sexual harassment at workplace is not a new concept and generally starts at college level, followed by different work sectors but the most horrifying situation is the trend of biased sexual harassment committee being adapted by every sector to waive off the actual issue and in turn hold the victim as culprit. Girl's character assassination is a common tool in such practices. These committees have been proved to be a failure because true justice is almost always denied and the culprits get motivated towards committing the same crime again. Such biased internal committees act as a guard for the culprit because the culprit is helping the institution/organization earn in millions. Sooner or later in such sectors women are either forced to quit or to compromise. But there are also institutions where the communities are unbiased and punish the culprit strictly.

Worried due to such corrupt conditions, most of the parents and society advocate girls to stay indoors and avoid stepping out as much she can, as if the moment she will step out, she will be raped. The justification for such measure, given mostly by the families and societies is that the Prevention is better than cure. The crimes related to assault, rape, harassment  are so common and uncontrollable that all the applicable sections of IPC like, 302 IPC murder, 304b IPC dowry deaths, 376 IPC rape etc., related to such crimes have been failing. Parents and society reach a conclusion that instead of facing such a risk, their daughters, wives, mothers and sisters should be kept from the outside world and made to live as a frog that prefers the safety of a well more than the cruel world.

But it does not mean that women who are at home do not face any sort of harassment or crime. In fact, women who are home-makers are subject to more crimes than the ones who step out. Women who stay indoors are mostly subject to domestic abuse which is a very common form of crime against women in India. The 2012 National Crime Records Bureau report of India states a reported crime rate of 46 per 100,000, rape rate of 2 per 100,000, dowry homicide rate of 0.7 per 100,000 and the rate of domestic cruelty by husband or his relatives as 5.9 per 100,000. This clearly shows that women are neither safe outside nor inside.

The girls who face crimes like rape are also attacked on a mental and psychological level in addition to physical attributes. Men, in order to teach a lesson to a woman, commit crimes like rape and assault or even acid attack out of vengeance and the woman who is a victim of such a crime is first advised by the authorities to sleep over the issue and save her lost dignity. Instead of helping her, the public authorities and the society pressurise such women to hide under the closet. Even in the heinous crime of brutal gang rape in Nirbhaya' case, the advocates and politicians did not hesitate in spitting out venomous comments for the girl who faced such horrifying and evil trauma. In fact, inhuman advices and suggestions were given by the so-called Indian gurus, patriotic politicians and film stars on the destroyed faith of Nirbhaya. The crimes are being justified by the lawyers fighting in defence for such culprits and new sets of 'codes of conduct' are openly advised for females whenever such crimes take place.  The Indian society has landed itself to such a state that the laws are being misused for the protection of culprits and narrow-minded people are easily manipulated by media and politicians into seeing a happy image of women in India.

Other than these, there are many crimes like female infanticide, prostitution, eve teasing, women trafficking, groping and molestation etc., that are emerging as major crimes against women. People say that women have been empowered more than men. They enjoy lucrative positions in society. Women, today, are entrepreneurs, doctors, top-notch lawyers, ministers and even queens of nations and yet the gender demands more empowerment which is unfair for the opposite gender because every woman empowered today, in a way pushes the identity of a male towards minority because the society can survive only when there is a balance of gender roles at home front and also at work front. But I agree with the above statement only partially. Women are indeed considered empowered to a great extent by their increased involvement at the work front, but the society needs to understand what is being empowered with respect to women? Women are given freedom to take work-related decisions but till date they are not empowered because true empowerment will be when they will be able to express themselves comfortably in the society, when they will be able to convey their pains and ill-treatments they have been through. Empowerment will be when a rape victim will be able to file charges independently without hesitation or harassment or denied justice or even derogatory labels that are given to such a victim. The society looks empowered but is still way behind empowerment and has paralyzed the prosperity of woman as a gender.

Whether confined in boundaries or set free, the female identity is in danger today. Men, without realising the importance of the ardhangini (the better half) are violating her in the body of flesh and bones but worshiping her at the same time in the body of stone and ceramics. Such a fate of women in India, where society is blind and laws are misused to such an extent, endangers the identity of women wherever they go.

Published work. © PULKIT MOHAN SINGLA
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Pulkit Mohan singla is a master’s in Interior designing and events management. He is a writer, artist, builder, and soon to be a lawyer. He is the author of 'Reality of spirituality in kalyug', 'The bible of marriage', 'Decor ideas by Pulkit Mohan Singla', 'Extraordinary living room designs' and is the owner of Hall of Poets - a global poetic community. His upcoming books are: 'Reality of spirituality in kalyug -2' and 'The invisible world of ghosts'. Pulkit also writes on social issues and his website is among the frequently visited websites. He has co-authored and co-edited many anthologies and has also donated his art for noble causes.

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